This post comes from CBF of North Carolina Coordinator and 2012 Task Force member Larry Hovis. The full report can be accessed and feedback provided at www.thefellowship.info/2012taskforce.
In April 2010, Daniel Vestal and Babs Baugh convened a gathering at Callaway Gardens, Georgia, of leaders of CBF organizations (state and national) and CBF partner ministries. The purpose of the gathering was to recognize the many ministries that had been birthed or strengthened because of CBF during our first 20 years, think about ways to celebrate the CBF community in honor of that birthday and also begin discerning the future of our community.
The design for the gathering included a rhythm of brief (the assigned time was eight minutes) presentations, followed by discussion in small and large groups. Because I was serving at the time as convener of the CBF “Movement Leadership Team” (national, state and regional coordinators), I was asked to bring one of the presentations on the final day and to focus on the future. The title of my presentation was, “The Next Twenty Years: Missional Collaboration in the Fellowship Movement.” Here is thesis of that presentation:
In order for us to fulfill the grand dream of the Fellowship Movement, we must, as a partnering network of autonomous but interdependent Baptist bodies, become a trusting and learning community that moves from mere cooperation to authentic missional collaboration.
A few months later, I was asked to serve on the 2012 Task Force. When we began our work, I knew some, but not all of the task force members. After 18 months of working together, we’ve become close colleagues. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for each member of our team. And I realize that our work together has been about formulating a plan to turn the dream I expressed at Callaway into a concrete reality.
Our proposals are not perfect and will require time, energy, trust, sacrifice, and lots of good will. This plan provides not a detailed blueprint, but a thoughtful framework, for the various components of our CBF community (individuals, congregations, state and regional CBF organizations, national CBF and ministry partners) to balance freedom and cooperation in the service of God’s mission in the world.
We spent our first 20 years as a movement emphasizing freedom, autonomy and independence. The challenge for us in the next 20 years is to learn how to function as a missional community that calls out, affirms and deploys the gifts and assets that reside in various parts of the community. We shouldn’t sacrifice the former. We can’t move forward without the latter.
I concluded my Callaway address with these words:
My dream for the Fellowship Movement, as we begin composing the next 20 years, is that we will enjoy a magnificent collaboration, that we will bring joy to God and to the people God calls us to serve, and that even though the work will be hard, we will have fun, and we will know the overflowing joy of using our unique gifts and capacities to accomplish our particular portion of fulfilling God’s great dream for the world.
Because of the work of the 2012 Task Force, we’re closer than ever to fulfilling that dream. I pray our Fellowship will embrace this vision and work together to turn dreams into deeds.
Good thesis and great dream.